Posts Tagged ‘beer in amsteram’

A Burger and Beer at Bret

Sloterdijk, an area of Amsterdam once so drab and grey that the only thing you wanted to do is get the hell out of there and go home. Once this was area had only office buildings with an occasional hotel in between. Trees and grass were sparsely placed in the jungle of concrete but could be seen from behind your desk just too far to go there in your lunch break.

But Sloterdijk lost its position as the center of business in Amsterdam. Zuid (South) attracted a lot of company headquarters and businesses in Sloterdijk vacated their buildings too for the move south. At the same time Amsterdam was looking for more space for new hotels, something there is a big lack of in the capital. The old office buildings in Sloterdijk are now converted into hotels. A convenient location because both downtown Amsterdam, Zaandam and Haarlem or 10 to 15 minutes away by train.

It is here that a group DSC01150of architects and young ambitious restauranteurs decided to build Bret, with support from local government. You may remember an earlier story I wrote when Thomas Boonstoppel of Nordman Beers led me around what was then still a construction site. It has now been open for about a month and a half and it is going better than expected.

It is going great in that a reservation is needed for lunch and dinner, which I am glad we made. While we were sitting there people kept coming, most were able to sit but some had to be turned away because the container structure was completely full. Good for Bret, unfortunate for the guests.

DSC01155And it’s not because Bret is the only available place to go in that area. It is a good restaurant with a good menu. Because they open at 8 a.m. already you can get breakfast, lunch and dinner apart from the wide selection of beer. Getting a coffee-to-go is a good choice. We started a three day holiday to Rotterdam here but I had my best coffee on the first day here at Bret.

DSC01154They attempt to have the food as fresh and local as possible and it shows because it looks good. We had a burger (with awesome onion relish) and a lentil salad. The menu isn’t pages long but varied enough so that most people can find something they like.

The beer

Beer is of course the reason we went to Bret in the first place. Their beer menu might not rival that of other places in the city but is quite good for the area it is in. Because the guys from Nordman are part of the team running Bret you can find all or most of their beers on tap (3 in our case). It is possible to get 4 small glasses in a tasting paddle, and that is a great thing always and everywhere and something every bar should do.

DSC01151Gulpener is the big contributor so you can find their beers on tap as well, but it is the bottles that are most interesting. Again, nothing you can’t find anywhere else but they try and have beers from most of the bigger Amsterdam breweries so ‘t IJ, Prael, Two Chefs and Oedipus you can find here, as well as a good selection of beers from the country like Emelisse, Uiltje and Jopen.

Their effort to promote Amsterdam beer will have a highlight when this weekend they will host the first Amsterdam Craft Beer Festival in and around Bret. The garden and surrounding area are well suited for this.


Because Bret has barely been open it is hard to say what the future will bring, but things are looking great so far. The building already seems to small! And with the plot of land across the street under development as well we can only hope that it will be yet another highlight in the Dutch beer revolution.


Is Bret worth the trip to Sloterdijk? Yes it is, but for the overall experience of the organic building, the food and the coffee. The beers as I said are decent but nothing unique, it is however a very nice place to drink your Oedipus Mannenliefde. If you are in Amsterdam and want to visit Haarlem or the windmills north of the canal Bret is a perfect starting point. It is well worth visiting this nicely stacked sea container structure.

Dutch Beer for Tourists I: Amsterdam’s Golden Quartet

amsterdam_braun_and_hogenberg_15741People who read this blog but have only spent little or no time in this country often ask me the what which beer related places they should visit. Since Amsterdam is often the first and only destination it will feature in the first installment of a new series: Dutch beer for tourists!

Amsterdam, the city I was fortunate enough to live in for over a decade. While Utrecht might be a more interesting place to visit when it comes to beer, Amsterdam is making a comeback lately and in one years’ time there will be even more to visit, but for now I am sticking with what some, including myself, call the ‘Golden Quartet’.

Proeflokaal het Arendsnest (Herengracht 90)

If you are only in Amsterdam for an hour but still want to go to an iconic place for Dutch beer, then the Arendsnest is the place. About a 10-15 minute walk from the local railway station you pass one of the most beautiful canals in the city, aptly named the Brewerscanal (Brouwersgracht). Though you could easily linger on the small bridges for hours, tear yourself away until you reach the Herengracht where you will find the Arendsnest. For well over a decade Peter van den Arend has run a bar on the canal and it is still unique. It only serves Dutch beer, and from all over the country. Fourteen taps and countless bottles offers something for everyone. The staff knows everything about what they offer so they can give you the right advice. On a nice warm day you can sit on the terrace on the side of the canal.

BeerTemple (Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 250)

If excellent beer is your religion then this is it’s temple. Also owned by the same Peter who owns the Arendsnest, it offers beer from mostly the U.S. and Scandinavia, with some other countries thrown in, including Holland. The BeerTemple has been open for a few years now, can sometimes be empty but what is on offer there is unequaled in the Netherlands, maybe in Europe.

Think the great bigger American craft brewers, but also Mikkeler and Struise. Usually there are around 4 Dutch beers on tap too. What is on offer here is the best of the best craft beer has to offer at the moment.

Bierkoning ( Paleisstraat 125)

Just around the corner is a shop that doesn’t look like much from the outside. But walk through the door and small corridor and you enter beer heaven. This is easily the best beer store in Amsterdam. You won’t find cases of Heineken here but the best that craft brew worldwide has to offer, though most of it is from the U.S., Germany, England, Belgium, Denmark and whatever else is good. Their Dutch section is growing and growing and now probably the biggest section. As I wrote in an earlier piece, they are a big help in spreading the word about the new Dutch wave of craft beer. Here again the staff knows everything you need to know. Other stores might be more comfortable to walk around in, but no other store in Amsterdam offer a selection as this one does. Since it is almost next to the Royal Palace, there is no excuse for you to miss De Bierkoning.

In De Wildeman (Kolksteeg 3)

If you really need to go back to the station with your backpack heavy with the bottles you just bought at de Bierkoning, the ghost of Michael Jackson (the beer writer who once recorded a bit for his series here) will haunt you forever if you don’t go to In De Wildeman first. This is a specialty beer with beer from all over Europe, but you can easily sit here all day and only have Dutch brews either from one of the many taps or bottles. Like the other bars, the staff knows what they are selling. Though surrounded by noisy, busy streets it can often be a haven of calm, especially during the day. The premises once was occupied by a distillery, and the signs of that are still there. While you’re in there, grab a book, drink a beer and don’t forget to look above the door at all the beers on tap.

[youtube]Go to the 6:00 mark for In De Wildeman, it’s old but legendary


If you are staying in Amsterdam longer there are other places worth visiting.

Brouwerij ‘t IJ (Funenkade 7)

A little outside of downtown, but easy to reach by tram, is one of the oldest craft breweries in the country: Brouwerij ‘t IJ. Located in an old bathhouse underneath a windmill it’s a pretty place to visit. Recently they built a new part a little down the road but the tasting room remains. You can sit inside but the best place is outside on a warm spring or summer night. ‘t IJ has also in the last few years ventured into some newer styles and you can now get porters, IPA’s apart from the standard beers they have had for ages.

De Prael (Oudezijds Voorburgwal 30)

If you haven’t been to Amsterdam much you will likely end up in the red light district. Don’t forget to wander into the Prael, a newer brewery with a shop and tasting room.